Why is a mule saddle different?
- Mule saddles look like a horse saddle in many ways, but they are built fit a mule’s conformation instead of a horse’s conformation.
- A “mule” is a cross between and male donkey and a female horse. Their backs often take after their donkey parent, and a mule saddle is built to recognize this.
Mules are popular among many riders for trail riding, pleasure, ranch work, or any other riding activity that horses are also commonly used for. For more information about mules and mule saddles please scroll down beneath the mule saddles for sale.
Below: A saddled, dark brown mule walks down a steep, rocky hillside on a competitive trail ride.
Comparison Shop For Mule Saddles
Below are mule saddles for sale from eBay and HorseSaddleShop.
- HorseSaddleShop is one of the largest saddle dealers in the country. Almost every
saddle they carry is in stock and ships the same day.
- Most of the saddles shown are new, but some might be used.
- Shipping is almost always included in the price for locations in the continental USA.
- Some saddles by HorseSaddleShop are listed twice. Why? It’s because HorseSaddleShop is one business (located in Bremen, Indiana), with two websites (HorseSaddleShop.com and eSaddles.com), and they often show the same saddle on both websites. In case one website would have a better deal on a saddle, saddles from both websites are shown.
A mule is a cross between a male donkey (called a jack) and a female horse (called a mare). A male mule is called a “john” and a female is called a “molly.” Both male and female mules are almost always sterile. Even though males are typically sterile, they are often castrated (gelded) in order to prevent the behavioral problems inherent in many studs. Mules are often prized for their level-headedness, endurance, and for being sure-footed in rough terrain. Even though a mule is one-half horse, its conformation is usually very different and many if not most mules benefit from a saddle made for their body type.
A hinny is also a cross between a horse and a donkey, but the cross is just the opposite of what produces a mule: A hinny is a cross between a male horse (called a stallion) and a female donkey (called a jenny). Like mules, hinnies are almost always sterile.
Below: A mule walking up a rocky hillside.
Below: A chestnut mule walks quietly down a rocky slope.
Below: A gray mule wearing a roping saddle in a ranch rodeo.
About Mule Saddles
All mules (and horses, for that matter) are individuals with individual conformation. In general, though, most mules benefit from having a saddle built for their confirmation as opposed to a horse’s conformation. Below are just a couple of differences in mule and horse conformation that will affect saddle fit.
- Mules tend to have a flatter topline when compared to the topline of a horse. In other words, while most horses have a downward curve in their topline, most mules have a topline that (comparatively speaking, at least) is much flatter.
- Mules also commonly tend to be narrower through their shoulders when compared to a horse.
There are other difference between horse and mule conformation of course, both in general and when it comes to saddle fitting. However, the two differences mentioned above are common, they are easy for most folks to see, and they can have a big impact on saddle fit. A poorly fitting saddle on a mule, at best, will mean the saddle requires an overly, and uncomfortably, tight cinch just to stay on (and that might still easily slip or tip out of position). At worst, a poorly fitting saddle might mean that the mule is pinched or squeezed, causing minor to major discomfort that could lead to physical damage or behavioral issues.
Not all mules require a mule saddle for proper saddle fit. Some mules are built similar enough to their horse mother, as opposed to their donkey father, that a horse saddle will fit them just fine. However, if your mule has conformation more like the typical mule than a horse, a mule saddle might provide the best fit for them.
Below: A mule showing the flat topline typical for mule conformation, and that will have an affect on saddle fit when compared to a saddle built for a horse.
Mules Are Hybrids
A mule is a hybrid. While the definition of “hybrid” can vary somewhat, in this case it means the offspring of the cross between two different animal species. A mule is a hybrid because it is the cross between a female horse and a male donkey. Although both male and female mules are almost always sterile, male mules are commonly gelded (castrated) in order to prevent the behavioral problems inherent in many studs.
Mules benefit from “hybrid vigor,” which means that many of the traits it receives from its parents are enhanced, or superior in the mule than in either of its parents. For example, mules are commonly considered to be smarter, stronger, possess more endurance, and healthier than either of its parents. Concerning a mule’s hybrid vigor, Charles Darwin said:
“The mule always appears to me a most surprising animal. That a hybrid should possess more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life, than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has here outdone nature.”
In the animal world (plants can also be hybrids) mules are probably far and away the best known example of a hybrid. Other, but lesser known hybrids, include:
- Beefalo – The cross between domesticated cattle and an American bison (which is commonly referred to as a “buffalo”).
- Hinny – A cross between a male horse and a female donkey. A mule, of course, is also a cross between a horse and a donkey, but the genders of the parents are swapped: A mule is the cross between a female horse and a male donkey.
- Liger – The cross between a male lion and a female tiger.
- Tigon – The cross between a male tiger and a female lion.
- Zebroid – The cross between a zebra and any other member of the family Equidae (which, besides zebras, includes donkeys, ponies, and horses). Some of the crosses have their own names. For example:
- A “zonky” is a cross between a zebra and a donkey.
- A “zorse” is a cross between a zebra and a horse.
- A “zony” is a cross between a zebra and a pony.
Below: A hybrid known as a “zony,” or a cross between a zebra and a pony. While there are numerous hybrids in the animal world, the mule is probably the one that is best known.
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